“No More Bull Shit…” asserts singer Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats. “That was our declaration for this whole album,” he says when speaking about the bands fifth studio recording Searching For Zero. The choruses are hookier, the screams more savage, the riffs more vicious, the songs more powerful. This is the Cancer Bats at their pinnacle – their “True Zero.”
“We were coming out of what was a really heavy year for all of us, with a lot of challenges, non stop touring and the deaths of people really close to the band. Us dealing with all of that and how that’s taken its toll,” explains Cormier about the headspace he shared with his band mates – drummer Mike Peters, guitarist Scott Middleton, and bassist Jaye Schwarzer – surrounding the album’s composition.
As such, the 10 tracks that comprise Searching For Zero, produced by Ross Robinson, known for his work with Sepultura, Slipknot, At The Drive In, Glass Jaw, Blood Bothers and The Cure to only name a few, marks a new extension of the bands already staple sonic components – the urgency and intensity inherent in Cormier’s vocals, Middleton’s sometimes sludgy, sometimes raging riffage, and the grimy, gritty, heavy-hitting rhythm section of Peters and Schwarzer, are all present; however, the album boasts a more raw and organic tonal signature than any previous Bats collection, with melodic elements not only musically but also vocally, which Cormier largely credits to their producer and their metal idols.
Robinson brought a bare-bones aural aesthetic to the material, capturing a sound that unites the thrashy metal-tinged hardcore of their previous releases with a meaty lo-fi intensity, found only in their live shows amongst the sweaty masses. The other influence, the bands love and admiration of Black Sabbath, whom they cover extensively under their alter ego, Bat Sabbath. “In learning all those Sabbath songs, I ended up having to figure out how to really sing” laughs Cormier “then it was Ross really pushing me to use that new voice I had discovered.”
Searching For Zero is impressive in its polarity – simultaneously the most melodic yet menacing Cancer Bats release, incorporating the crude hardcore punk of their 2006 debut, Birthing The Giant and more metal leanings of 2008’s Hail Destroyer while pushing the heavy hybrid sounds of 2010’s Mayors Bears Scraps and Bones and 2012’s darker Dead Set On Living to a new plateau.
“With all of these things we’ve had to deal with this past year, we were all at the point of saying 'No More Bull Shit', we’ve dealt with everything, nothing is standing in our way.” Cormier explains, “We’ve found our absolute zero, where there can no longer be a negative, and from that point, everything moving forward can only be positive.” And that positivity – that willingness to change what you can and let go of the rest – is the source of resolution. “There are real reasons we do this,” Cormier says assuredly. “We love being in this band, and we love the people that were lucky enough to share this with.” Nowhere is that more evident than a Cancer Bats show, where band, fans, and unsuspecting bystanders unite under a banner of raised fists and banging heads. The energy is as undeniably infectious as the music itself and has helped the band hold its own on club and festival stages around the world.
Searching For Zero comes from a place of heavy contemplation for its creators, and at times, that contemplation grew grim and dark. But the end result is an acceptance of the realities that come with pursuing a passion, leaving Cancer Bats with a reinvigorated drive to do right by themselves and the people that have followed them this far. “We think of the kids that have been with us the whole way” Cormier states “and we’re going to make sure that nobody ever regrets buying an album or getting a tattoo of our band put on their bodies for the rest of their lives, were all in this for the long haul.”